Gettysburg Hotel & Greek Orthodox Church: Brittany & Michael

A vibrant, romantic, Greek Orthodox wedding with fiery fall foliage, intense blue skies and a joyful couple being showered with love and even dollar bills at The Gettysburg Hotel

Brittany shared, “We have witnessed Lisa in action multiple times and have many of her pictures in my house (my Sister’s senior pictures, Mike’s cousin’s wedding, our engagement pictures). She lives two doors down from my parents and we have so much in common! My nerves were a mess on my wedding day but Lisa made me feel so calm and having known her for so long she is like family to us.”

She continued, “I love the stories Lisa tells through her photos and her blog. Each image has so much emotion and color. Every time I look at a new blog post I feel like I know the couple and can feel the love they have for each other. I also love art and almost majored in Art History in college. Having professional pictures taken by Lisa is like having a piece of art on your walls! I love how creative she is with light, depth, and color.”

Thank you, Brittany!  I opened with a photo that had depth (couple, trees, Gettysburg Hotel, sky), emotion and vibrant color.  This next shot is modern, artistic, and much closer perspective.  I wanted to show the intricate details fo the diamonds on Brittany’s rings and the fiery orange shape and color of the leaves surrounding the Gettysburg Hotel.

Brittany shared, “I was going for a secret garden vibe.  My colors were gold, mauve, and burgundy. I love flowers  and floral patterns and those colors always seem to find a way into some of my favorite patterns and flowers.”

Brittany smiled,  “Michael is literally tall, dark, and handsome. He is also quiet, intelligent, reliable, caring and has the best smile!”

Here he shows that beaming smile as he gathers with his groomsmen in One Lincoln, the tavern located on the street level of the Gettysburg Hotel.   

The first look… I love the clean modern lines and the way there is a single block of sunshine encapsulating Brittany as she leans in for her first look with Michael:

She shared, “We weren’t sure if we wanted to spend the night before our wedding apart, but we did, so on the day of the wedding, I could not wait to see Michael. We are hardly ever apart so seeing him after a night away just made me so happy and calm. I always know everything will be ok as long as I’m with Michael.”

Brittany continued,  “He is my best friend. We are always open to each other and talk about everything. I cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives together!”
While I spend most of the day capturing candid moments, I also make sure to capture some more traditional portraits as well…
One thing Brittany mentioned to me was *loving* my work in DC, just how I incorporate the architecture and bring it into photos.

If you know this building, it is on the square in Gettysburg and always flooded with tourists.  It was today too, but I just got low and basically cropped them out of my frame, focusing instead on the architecture that Brittany loves so much and the colorful sky: 

As they followed the crosswalk on the square, we headed towards the vibrant, historic architecture of The Pub and the wind caught Brittany’s dress perfectly as Michael held her hand. 

Brittany shared, “We bonded early on over our love for movies and TV. However, over the past 8 years, we have continued to bond over so much more. We take tons of day trips to historic places like Gettysburg, Washington D.C., and Harpers Ferry. We go to museums, wineries, etc. I feel so lucky to have a partner who is willing to go on adventures with me and support me in that.”
Brittany explained, “We visited Gettysburg several times before our wedding day.  We knew we really wanted to enjoy the classic architecture downtown when we were with you and also have some fun with the chessboard outside of my favorite store, Nerd Herd, haha!”

King and queen for a day…

Brittany shared, “Michael and I get along so well. He tends to be more introverted, while I’m more extroverted so we definitely challenge each other when it comes to being social. I’m also spontaneous, while Michael is very deliberate. That makes our adventures challenging sometimes, haha but still exciting!”

I noticed this skeleton in one of my favorite stores, and Brittany’s too, The Lark.

It says, “Waiting for my wife to finish shopping.”

Brittany laughed, “I love shopping, and Michael is usually really patient with me when I want to explore.”

I *loved* Brittany’s wedding gown.

She shared, “I’m still obsessed with the Hayley Page Pascal gown. I literally knew as soon as the consultant showed it to me that it was the one. It looks like a Secret Garden! It has the most delicately beaded flowers and vines in teal, pink and white. It was shiny and flowy and everything I never knew I wanted in a dress!”

I try to give couples a really eclectic mix of shots, here is a more serious portrait of the two of them:

Brittany shared, “As I said our love of similar TV shows and movies is one thing that really brought us together at the start… one of our favorite TV shows and now movie is Downton Abbey, so once we saw that on the marquee at The Majestic, just behind the Gettysburg Hotel, it was like fate!”
Here is the famous train station where President Abraham Lincoln rode into and stood in order to give the Gettysburg Address.

Strike a pose!  

Brittany smiled, “Years ago, after attending my first Greek Wedding, I wanted my family and friends to experience it too. They are so much fun!  Now they have!”

Here is the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in York, PA, it’s unique and beautiful inside and out…

I love all of the ornate detail work on the inside– here is a more traditional bridal party portrait showing that off…
I love seeing all of the different elements of faith that I see nearly every weekend as I photograph weddings.  Here a wedding guest lights a candle to offer a prayer…
The priest chanted in Greek throughout the service– the atmosphere was loving and reverent…
Brittany explained, “There is so much tradition and symbolism in a Greek Orthodox Wedding Ceremony. Marriage is a sacrament in the Greek Orthodox Religion.”
During a wedding day, I move around a lot, haha.  The last photo I posted I captured from the front side of the church while this one I captured from the balcony in the center so that you can see all of the intricate detailing on the floor, ceiling, and altar…
Brittany smiled, “One of my favorite parts of the ceremony has always been the exchanging of the crowns (stefana).   The Koumbara accompanies this act. They are the “sponsor” of our marriage and are making a pledge to be a guide and support to the marriage. It is a huge honor.”

She continued, “We asked Michael’s Aunt, Effrosiny to be our Koumbara. She is his Mother’s sister and ever since his Mom passed away in 2005 from Cancer, she really stepped into the lives of Michael and his siblings as a mother figure.  Seeing her in this role in our wedding meant so much to Michael and I.” 

The glowing gold candlelight along with the gold trim and detailing was just stunning.  I got a little extra creative with this shot and brought all of that in here:
The mood was reverent and I really wanted to capture that– the dramatic gold, black, white, red– the young men, poised and non-descript in the foreground in tuxedos while the reader is illuminated as he speaks, just felt like it was something that I needed to capture:
Haaa also the playful moves of this sweet flower girl:
I love the symmetry of this image.  To me it captures the order and tradition of the ceremony:
Haha, here Michael stoops so that his aunt can reach over his tall frame, Brittany giggles:
Communion:
Brittany explained, “After being pronounced husband and wife I felt so happy and proud.  When we walked out of the church to the receiving line I felt such a rush of joy and relief.”
Brittany shared, “Of all the things we have in common, most important to me is that Michael loves family – mine and his. We spend a lot of time with both of our families and that is so important. I love the fact that he comes from a big family and has over 15 cousins in the U.S. and Greece.”

Here are a few of Michael’s family members:

While my second photographer, Jim, captured the more traditional family portraits, in the church, I headed to the reception to focus on the florals and other reception details.

Brittany smiled, “I have always known that I wanted big floral centerpieces that made a statement. I’m very picky about flowers too so I was  pretty specific about what types of flowers I wanted.”

She continued, “Michael’s Mom’s favorite flower was the Snapdragon so it was really important to me that there were touches of them in the centerpieces. The Flower Shop was absolutely amazing to work with and made my flower dreams  come true!”

She winked, “My Mom knows how much I love flowers too and made my dream happen by increasing the flower budget.”

Brittany explained, “I was so in love with my cake which was covered in fondant flowers! I wanted a grand traditional wedding cake that tasted great and that’s what I got! Each tier was a different flavor!”

Hard to believe but the tulips, dahlias, and peonies on that cake are 100% fondant icing!!!

Brittany’s parents, my neighbors…

Awww how happy are they, and their guests, and check out the stunning ballroom!
Brittany explained, “Michael and his siblings are so close. Losing their Mom at such a young age kind of forced them to be. Michael is the oldest and has always been the one they look up to. Michael’s brother Nick touched on that in his Best Man speech. He did such an amazing job, calling Michael the true best man.”
Brittany explained, “My favorite part of the wedding day was the toasts. They were so heartfelt and emotional.”

Brittany shared, “Hearing Michael’s aunt speak on behalf of her sister and acknowledge how much I have been trying to embrace the customs and traditions of not only the Greek Orthodox faith but the Greek way of life, meant so much to me and Michael.  I really did get emotional.”

The band began playing Greek wedding music and the guests, no matter what their background, joined in, holding hands and forming large rhythmic circles with the bride and groom and around them!  Here one of Brit’s sisters laughs as she spins.  I used a slow shutter to capture the movement and love how that turned out!

Brittany smiled, “Money being thrown while the band plays is always the highlight of a greek wedding reception. The first dance of the evening is with the whole bridal party and was led by me because it  is “The Bride’s Dance” which is done to the dance, Kalamatiano.”

I worked with my lighting and shutter speed to freeze the falling money and allow it to be the subject of the photo…

Brittany continued, “The money is very unique and fun, I think it’s called Hartoura. Throwing it at the bride and groom symbolizes good fortune and prosperity.”
All of the wedding guests really got into the dancing, even one of my friends and her family small town, haha…

Brittany explained, “Having all of our family and friends together in the same room celebrating together was just amazing.”

I love using my shutter speed to stop time– now that is a ponytail!

Brittany smiled, “The end of the evening felt amazing. Planning a wedding was one of the most overwhelming things I have ever done. I had so much fun and it was all worth it, but I was so happy when it was coming to an end, haha.”

She went on, “Being outside in the cool air with Michael under the lights was exactly how I wanted it to end. He is the light in my life and always will be.”

Brittany & Michael, thank you so much for sharing your special day with me!  It has been such a pleasure to see be there for so many key points of you and your family members’ lives!

If you’d like to see more of Brittany & Michael, check out their Harper’s Ferry engagement session here.  A few of those other family events were Michael’s cousin’s wedding and Brittany’s sister’s senior portraits.  🙂

Wedding Vendors (along with Brit’s comments) :

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